The Income Tax order presented by Subramanian Swamy in the court has opened a pandora’s box for Congress and the Gandhi family. The order by itself indicts the Gandhis of exactly what was alleged by Dr Swamy. Further, it reveals some sub-plots like how the Gandhis’ company Young Indian tried to thwart the investigation. The order also reveals how the Congress party threatened a tax officer with legal consequences, for asking “irrelevant questions”.
Another section of the order now reveals how the officers of Young Indian (YI) physically obstructed an income tax officer from doing his duty. At this point, the Income tax department’s investigation had concluded that the entire National Herald case was a scheme to transfer prized real estate assets from Associated Journals Limited (AJL) to the Gandhi family controlled YI. The scheme was devised such that no tax would have to be paid, since the fair market value of these properties would run into hundreds of crores.
Thus, to determine the tax evaded, the Income Tax department had to value the properties involved. For this, they ordered that the following properties owned by AJL be valued by the Departmental Valuation Officer (DVO) to ascertain the fair market value as on date:
Little did the DVO know that he would be stopped from discharging his duty by YI and AJL. In his physical inspection report, the DVO lays down the facts.
He states that via a letter dated 14.07.2017, certain information and documents were sought from YI to facilitate the valuation. Instead of providing the information and documents, YI raised certain objections. The officer clarified the objections by 09.08.2017, and YI was again requested to furnish the information and documents by 22.08.2017. The tentative date of inspection of the above properties was also intimated to YI via this letter.
In response to this letter, again raised some objections via letter dated 21.08.2017. In response the DVO intimated to them that even if they could not provide the information and documents, the DVO would inspect the propertv at 5A, Herald House, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, on 01.09.2017 at 11.30 hours. AJL as well as YI were asked to extend the necessary cooperation.
The story beyond this, as per the DVO’s report is shown as below:
As can be seen from the DVO’s report, he states that the security personnel at the premises and the representatives of YI and AJL, did not allow the DVO and his team to carry out physical inspection of the premises. Thus YI and AJL, left no stone unturned to ensure that the true value of the premises would never come out.
consequently, the DVO resorted to collect external data and estimate the value of the premises. The order notes that the above incident corroborated the finding that YI “had not only taken possession of whole property but it had full control over the property including entry and exit to the property“. Thus YI itself had proved that the entire transaction was done to gain control over AJL’s properties, and it had succeeded in the same.
This reluctance of YI and AJL in even letting an income tax officer visit their premises, betrays extreme fear of being caught in something which they have no way out of.